“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh.
It’s the most natural thing in the world, and we think nothing of it. We breathe, mostly unconsciously, without thought. But why is it important to understand breath? In our city lives of non-stop emails, smartphone pings, news flashes, constantly trying to keep up with social media creates stress in our bodies that we might not be aware of. Getting a handle on breath helps us cope better. Along with a few other reasons…
1. We want to be happy. Our breath is directly linked to our mood, and our nervous system. The nervous system governs the body’s ‘fight or flight’ (sympathetic) and ‘rest and restore’ (parasympathetic) responses. When we are upset or panicky, breathing becomes shallow and fast, and our nervous system becomes stressed. This triggers the fight or flight response. The opposite is also true; when we are calm, breathing is steady, and the nervous system functions properly. We are in ‘rest and restore’ mode. (Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, AP of Medicine at Harvard Medical School). This ‘rest & restore’ mode means that the body gets more oxygen and serotonin – our ‘happy hormones’.
2. It helps us live longer. The ‘rest and restore’ mode with a more oxygenated body leads to improved heart health. Being in this state consistently leads to a longer life. And when we breathe well, we have optimal health, which is exactly what we need for a long life.
3. It improves our stamina All athletes focus on their breathing. What they’re doing is practising how to use their lungs to the best ability. In our modern sedentary lifestyle, we typically breathe vertically – using only our upper lungs (shoulders move up). Another way of breathing is horizontally, using the lower lungs (abdomen moves out); also known as diaphragmatic breathing. Swimmers, free divers, runners (even singers!) must learn to control their breath. A himalayan Sherpa can climb 2000m down Mount Everest in 2 hours; much faster than the any trained climbers, who would take half a day! Why? The Sherpas efficient breathing gives them large amounts of stamina. It’s not that they are superhuman!
The Chinese & Indian cultures have long known about this, and cultivated various breathing techniques. It ranges from Qigong breathing to Yogic techniques. Science has broken it down with clear explanations. Here’s a great article we like.
There is SO much more to breathing than the simple acts of inhale / exhale. It’s why we wanted to kick off our Yellow Space workshop with the theme of BREATHE. So to go back to the title: how many breaths do most people breathe per minute? 12-16 breaths. Deep controlled breathing halves this, in order to reap the benefits.
How many breaths do you breathe?
reTreat. You don’t need to get on a plane for a reTreat- create your own reTreat right here right now. Valérie will condense key aspects of the Krishnamacharya style into easily digestible nuggets – so that you capture the essence. This is an absolute must do! $120 each.
Go Deep. We suspect everyone who’s gone for the reTreat session will want to sign up for this follow up 4-class series… $400 for the whole series.
(1) Minimum 5 & Maximum 8 students. Suitable for all levels.
(2) The 4-class workshop is structured so that one class builds into the next. We highly recommend you don’t skip any.
(3) You will get very personal attention from your teacher (the best ’round here IMHO). It will be worth every minute of your time, and every cent that it costs.
See you in our Yellow Space soon…